2018: Moment

Moment. Pick one moment during which you felt most alive this year. Describe it in vivid detail.

In 2017, it was the moment (or moments) that I deeply connected with a group I had just met at a conference where I thought I would have been antisocial (or just horribly socially anxious). In 2016, it was the moment that I felt in the flow in telling the story of Ice Cream Travel Guide. In 2015, it was the moments after my hat was “stolen” in Rio. In 2014, it was a moment in a writing workshop that I had achieved greatness. In 2013, it was talking to Yasar Usta in Istanbul. In 2012, it was using the ocean as a “big toilet” while floating outside Palawan. In 2011, it was my birthday moment. In 2010, it was the success in Journey to the End to the Night.

Right before I started a new job, I decided that Chris and I should do a getaway somewhere. But unlike my attempt to do something in 2017, which ended up this expensive trip to Las Vegas that only seemed fun to some people, but definitely not us, especially in the heat of the summer. For some reason, I typically have started new jobs in the summer, so not many great destinations were in mind.

This year though, after going to a writers retreat at an airbnb in Ukiah and hearing about nearby hot springs from a writer there, I was instantly intrigued. And also having spent a whole week at Esalen where I lamented that the hot springs weren’t that interesting to me, but how it would be great to share with Chris.

Knowing that Chris always enjoyed hot baths (but to me, I find them to be a waste of water), I thought that this would be a good bonding experience. Especially coming from a writer who I trusted and appeared similar to me.

So we decided to drive up to Orr Hot Springs and spend a night. I spent time researching it and understanding its layout/intentions. Although I had misjudged how much stuff we should bring for meals (yes, you have to bring all your condiments including spices and butter and pretty much anything you need to make food), it was still quite intimaite.

But the moment actually was with our prudish style. Although I really don’t have a problem with nudity, I am a bit more private. Chris is too. So our last dip to the hot springs, we decided to do with bathing suits since the darkness couldn’t mask us anymore. By this point, we had to check out of our room (a really cool wooden yurt in the woods!) and pack the car. Our plan was to do one dip before driving out of the resort and back to San Francisco. Back to reality (note: not cellular reception here nor access to the internet). I had some optional social event in San Francisco at 6 pm. But because we’re prude and private, Chris left the car keys in his swimming trunks. He realized that he had the keys after 5 minutes into the bath. But by then, it was too late. In the hot sun, we thought that the key would dry quickly. But it didn’t. The car didn’t start.

Soon we begged to use the phone to call tow trucks, but there was something wrong with the insurance and the closest car dealer was more than 50 miles away (so it would cost extra if we went that route). Then there was an issue of no callback number, because it would have gone directly to the voicemail. The resort staff refused to allow us to have the number called. So we were stuck. Surpremely stuck. Not only that the insurance company didn’t understand the issue so there was a long wait and they didn’t understand why there couldn’t be a callback number. At the last moment, we decided that we could call someone to pick us up. But of course, nobody in the right mind in 2018, would pick up a number from an unknown destination. Until of course, I called my parents who immediately freaked and said absolutely no. But then again would I have wanted my parents in their late 60s to drive a windy road for 3 hours?

In all of this, Chris figured out how to open the key with the lack of tools we had—our bare hands and possibly a pen. Resort staff was completely nonchalant and unhelpful. With that, I was able to dry out the key. The sun sucked up the water. And soon, in our constant repetitive desperate attempts, Chris tried the car again.

The moment is this: I was trying to keep calm as this was my last hurrah before a new intense job. Also, I was of the mind that I would drop $1000 to fix things, but Chris (fortunately) disagreed. With that last dry, he found that the car actually started and he drove quickly out of the parking lot, left the car running and ran into the lodge where I was happily reading Celeste Ng’s Little Fires Everywhere and declared “LET’S GO. It’s working.” We said our thanks to the no good, slightly helpful lodge staff and jumped in the car, driving within rules to San Francisco.

We stopped at In N Out so that we didn’t have to stop the car in case things died.

The lesson: to work as a team and believe. Well, the latter part at least. Or simply, just sit back and let the sun do its real work.

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